18 Scottish inventions that shaped the modern world

Without Scottish inventors, you might still be undergoing surgery without anaesthetic, using smoke signals to communicate or struggling to keep food chilled.

The telephone was just one significant contribution Scottish inventors made to the modern world
The telephone was just one significant contribution Scottish inventors made to the modern world

These are the 18 Scottish inventions and innovations that shaped the world we know today.

Kirkpatrick Macmillan from Dumfriesshire is often credited as the inventor of the first pedal bicycle in 1839. He never patented the idea and Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied it in 1846 - though Macmillian was unbothered.
Though the Renfrewshire-born James Watt didn't invent the first steam engine, his 1776 improvement was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.
Perhaps one of Scotland's most famous inventors, Alexander Graham Bell is best known for producing the world's first telephone in 1876, at just 29 years old .
You've got Dundee's James Chalmers to thank every time you stick a postage stamp onto a letter. He was a postal reform enthusiast and his son claimed that Chalmers came up with the idea for an adhesive postal stamp in 1837.
John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh and was the first person to build a working television. By 1924 he'd managed to transmit a flickering image a few feet and in 1926 he gave a demonstration before 50 scientists in London.
We have John Reith to thank for the very concept of broadcasting as a way of educating the masses. He established the tradition of independent public service broadcasting and was one of the BBC's first founders.
An invention that has saved thousands of lives, penicillin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928, a scientist born in Darvel, East Ayrshire.
Scots Frank Barnwell and his brother Harold built a total of three aircraft in the years 1908-10. Frank laid out some principals of aircraft design in a paper which then became fundamental to all future aircraft design.
It probably comes as no surprise that golf was invented in Scotland. Records of the game have been found from as early as the Middle Ages, with the first written rules and invention of the 18 hole course dating form this period.
A Scottish engineer from Helensburgh - Henry Bell - was the man responsible for introducing the first successful passenger steamboat service in Europe, which took place in 1812.
Robert Watson-Watt was a Scot who made significant contributions to the invention of RADAR technology - a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the position of objects - which helped Britain win WWII.
Surgeon James Braid, born in Portmoak, Kinross-shire, was an early pioneer of hypnotism and hypnotherapy. He conducted self-hypnosis experiments on himself in the mid 19th century before publishing his findings.
Legend has it that Ice Hockey evolved out of "Shinty," a similar Scottish game, when Scots regiments in Atlantic Canada played it on frozen lakes.
If you've ever undergone surgery, you've got Dr. John B. Glen to thank for the fact that you didn't have to do it while conscious. In 1977, the doctor discovered Propofol, the anaesthetic drug now used widely across the world during surgery.
Edinburgh-born Alan MacMasters invented the very first electric toaster in the 1880s. It was brought to the mass market as the 'Eclipse' but unfortunately became the first fatal cause of an appliance fire in Britain.
Another Edinburgh man, Alexander Cummings was the inventor of the not-so-glamorous but certainly essential flushing toilet in 1775.
In 1755, William Cumming created a small artificial refrigeration machine which he demonstrated to his university students. The idea had no practical applications at the time but later evolved into the modern fridge.
Next time you take soup out for lunch in a flask, think of Sir James Dewar, who came up with the vacuum flask in 1892 as a result of his research in the field of cryogenics.